50 MM Lens – When I was building my filmmaking lens kit for a mirrorless cinema camera, I started with a couple of zoom lenses and no prime lenses in my filmmaking camera bag.
And while these lenses were great for learning how to shoot video with my Sony a7r ii, I knew that if I wanted to be serious about my filmmaking game I need to invest in some higher quality lenses.
That’s where I came across a 50mm lens (nifty fifty lens) and it made me realize how much fun filmmaking can be with such a small lens and large maximum aperture.
The 50mm is a lens that every filmmaker needs in their gear because of versatility and the marvelous bokeh.
If you are a filmmaker embarking on the journey to becoming a better filmmaker just by grabbing the camera and just shooting something, then you need the nifty fifty lens in your camera bag today.
What is a Nifty Fifty 50mm Lens?
The nifty fifty is a 50mm prime lens with autofocus that is lightweight, constructed from low-priced materials, and has a fast maximum aperture.
The 50mm focal length is often associated with the lens that offers a “standard view” as its field of view is really close to what the eye sees naturally.
When you are buying a DSLR or Mirrorless camera kit, the lens that is usually included is a standard zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f/3.5, closing to f/6.3 when you zoom in.
Compare this to the 50mm lens that usually has an aperture of f/1.8, allowing in more light, and letting you freeze action in much darker conditions.
But what I think is the most vital piece to the nifty fifty, is the effect that the wider aperture has in creating a shallow depth of field.
Larger apertures enable you to keep your subject in focus while blurring the background like portrait mode on a smartphone. You can isolate your subject, and create that cinematic shallow depth of field look, which is very pleasing when shooting portraits.
If you are looking to play around with the camera’s aperture mode using an affordable 50mm f/1.8 lens will help you learn more about aperture and how it affects image-making and develop your knowledge of shooting videos and photography.
Don’t have a nifty fifty in your camera bag, and thinking about adding a new lens? Here are 7+ reasons why you should have the 50mm prime lens in your bag!
The kit lens that probably was included with your camera isn’t exactly large, but many 50mm lenses are more compact than even the kit lens.
Being compact is helpful for conditions in which you can’t handle a large lens. Street photography is a great example of a situation for when to use a 50mm lens as it allows you to move through the crowd with greater ease.
Many 50mm lenses are also lightweight, notably the f/1.8 version.
The faster 50mm lenses like the f/1.2 and f/1.4 are heavier because of their build, but they are still pretty lean and allow you to move your camera with great efficiency.
Starting off as an independent filmmaker, there is a lot more film equipment needed than just lenses, so starting off building a kit will be at a low budget.
The great thing about the 50mm lens options available today, won’t break the bank. So where should you start? A great lens, to begin with, is a 50mm f/1.8 lens.
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Nice Bokeh on a Budget
Prime lenses like the 50mm have yet another benefit that improves the quality of your photos – nice bokeh.
Bokeh refers to the quality of the blurriness of the background of a photo.
Sure, an expensive smartphone with multiple cameras can come close with its faux depth of field AI settings, but it’s not quite the same. Plus, you won’t know how to push your DSLR / Mirrorless camera to the limits and be a better filmmaker if you keep using a smartphone.
At 50mm, you can get magnificent blurry backgrounds shaped for a wonderful creative effect.
Better still, you get that effect right there in-camera, so you don’t have to spend a bunch of time in an editing suite playing around with Photoshop.
Shoot In Low Light
While a 50mm is light, cheap and creates smooth portraits, it’s the perfect lens that is great for indoor and outdoor shots in low light.
With most kit lenses that come with a camera is the small/variable aperture and that can represent an issue in low light. What happens is once the light dips, you have to beef up the ISO to unreasonable levels or ditch the camera completely.
With maximum apertures of f/2 and larger, 50mm lenses can collect a lot of light.
With all that light coming into the lens, that means you can take videos/photos in low lighting without using light.
With f/1.8, those extra stops of light allow you much more flexibility when shooting in low light. Suddenly shooting indoors becomes less of a problem, too.
With the ever-changing camera market, filmmakers could end up changing cameras often, plus a filmmaker will be working with other filmmakers over time using different cameras.
With full-frame cameras still the ideal camera for most filmmakers and videographers, working on crop sensor cameras can be common.
However, with a 50mm instead of, an 85mm prime, you’re not in an unfortunate dilemma when shooting on a 1.75x crop factor. It’ll be a tighter macro, but you can still position yourself better than other lens choices.
A prime lens like the 50mm has fewer internal elements than a zoom lens. This is another reason why I love the nifty fifty is they take sharp and clear photos and videos.
If you were to compare an image taken with a 50mm lens side-by-side with an image taken with a kit zoom lens, you’d see a marked difference in the sharpness.
For example, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART lens shown above is one of the sharpest lenses available today.
Granted, it’s a higher-end, more expensive 50mm lens, but even entry-level 50mm lenses like the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II offer excellent sharpness.
Beyond that, 50mm lenses often have better color rendition and less chromatic aberration than kit lenses, so you not only get sharper photos but ones with more accurate colors too.
Related Article: Fix It In Post – 5 Important Reasons Why You Shouldn’t
Nifty Fifty Lenses To Buy
- EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
- Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/22
- Super Spectra Coating
- STM Stepping AF Motor
- Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
One of the most versatile focal lengths available, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens from Canon is a compact, normal-length prime well-suited to everyday shooting.
The bright f/1.8 maximum aperture benefits working in difficult lighting conditions and also affords increased control over depth of field for isolating subject matter.
Individual elements feature a Super Spectra coating to help minimize flare and ghosting to realize greater contrast and color accuracy when working in backlit and harsh conditions.
Additionally, an STM stepping AF motor is used to realize quick and near-silent autofocus performance along with a full-time manual focus override.
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
- E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
- Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/22
- One Aspherical Element
- Double-Gauss Optical Design
- DC Autofocus Motor
- Seven-Blade Circular Diaphragm
A simple, bright, and lightweight normal prime, the FE 50mm f/1.8 from Sony is a versatile normal-length prime lens designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras.
Its sleek design makes it well-suited for everyday shooting, while the fast f/1.8 maximum aperture benefits working in low-light conditions, as well as offers, increased control over depth of field for selective focus imagery.
The optical design incorporates one aspherical element to control spherical aberrations and employs a double-gauss configuration to realize sharper, clearer image quality throughout the aperture range with reduced field curvature.
A DC actuator is also employed to provide quick and precise autofocus performance that is also quiet to suit video recording applications. Additionally, a rounded seven-blade diaphragm is featured to render out-of-focus highlights with a smooth, circular appearance.
Characterized by its straightforward design, this go-to lens balances both ease of handling along with enhanced image quality.
- F-Mount Lens/FX Format
- Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/16
- One Aspherical Element
- Super Integrated Coating
- Silent Wave Motor AF System
- Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
An essential lens if ever there was one, the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G from Nikon is the classic normal-length prime featuring a bright maximum aperture and lightweight design.
Corresponding to the natural field of view, the 50mm focal length is well-suited for a wide variety of subjects, including everything from landscape to portraiture.
The f/1.8 design suits working in difficult lighting conditions and also enables controlling the focus position for using shallow depth of field techniques.
One aspherical element is featured in the optical design to minimize spherical aberrations and distortion for high sharpness and accurate rendering.
A Super Integrated Coating also suppresses flare and ghosting for improved contrast and color accuracy. Additionally, the Silent Wave Motor affords fast, quiet, and precise autofocus performance as well as full-time manual focus override.
I hope I’ve convinced you to go out there and grab yourself the most used lens and focal length of all time!
The 50mm prime lens has a character all of its own and it makes for a unique videography and photography experience — filming could even become a real adventure!
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